This article initially appeared in the fall 2023 edition of The Vincentian, the quarterly newsletter of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province.
Starting in summer 2023, the Congregation of the Mission Western Province will began ministering to a set of five parishes in Alaska, taking over for a Vincentian international mission in the 49th state that has been in place since 2014.
Fr. Patrick McDevitt, C.M., Superior of the Western Province, said Superior General Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, C.M., asked him in fall of 2020 to consider taking on the Alaska mission. The Province conducted a detailed feasibility study and agreed to take on the mission.
Fr. David Nations, C.M., was assigned to the canonical house of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Anchorage, Alaska, and will serve as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Wasilla (pictured below), overseeing four additional parishes: Our Lady of the Lake in Big Lake, Saint Christopher in Willow, Saint Bernard in Talkeetna, and Saint Philip Benizi in Trapper Creek.
The International Mission was initiated to serve Spanish-speaking communities who had recently migrated to Alaska looking for work. Fr. Nations will join Fr. Hank Grodecki, C.M., of the Western Province, and Fr. Humberto Aristizabal, C.M., from the Province of Colombia, as well as Archbishop Andrew Bellisario, C.M., who serves as the Archbishop of Anchorage-Juneau.
“The Daughters of Charity of the Province of St. Elizabeth Seton (West) have been serving in Anchorage for 24 years, since 1999,” said Fr. McDevitt. “In addition, The Society of St. Vincent DePaul has served the poor in the cities of Anchorage and Juneau for many years. There are great opportunities for collaboration with the branches of the Vincentian family.”
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to minister in an area where there are immigrant populations who are in need of service,” said Fr. David. “The next challenge is to acquaint myself with the Filipino culture and Tagalog language to go with my abilities in Spanish language and Latin American cultures.”